Planning 4+ Month Solo Trip Beg. Spring 2003
I have just decided to take a Solo Spring/Summer Roadtrip.
Looking for as much advice as you all are willing to provide.
I have been reading the posts, thought that I would put a few questions out there.
Any additional advice on planning my tour of the lower 48?
(I have copied down TripTikMan's 12/15/02 thoughts on the subject. Thank you.) I will be dropping off my pets in Safety Harbor, FL. April 1. I plan on attending Jazz Fest in New Orleans April 25th. Other than that, nothing on the calendar as of yet. (I prefer the unusual to the commercial.)
Aside from the information on the Solo page of this site, any advice for a woman travelling alone? I would love to go to the National Parks, but was wondering if it would be safe to hike alone.
As far as accommodations go, should I stick with hotels? I can't imagine camping alone.
I have other questions, but feel that I should save them for another post. This one seems a bit lengthy as it stands.
Thank you in advance for any advice you may be able to provide.
4 months! I'm green over here.
You ask a very broad question and I just want to start you off with some good general advice.
First of all, if you haven't already, JOIN THE AAA! Travel agency and 24 hour roadside assistance all in one neat package, and free with membership dues.
As far as hiking alone...depends on what you're planning to do. If you're even asking the question, then you probably don't have a great deal of hiking experience. Not to worry, though. You will find many short hikes on well-maintained trails in national and state parks all over the country. All national parks and other sites run by the parks department have detailed guides available at their respective headquarters. The ranger that collects your entrance fee (or checks for your annual pass- which you should consider purchasing for about $50) will automatically hand you information about the site, including hiking opportunities.
And I would be remiss without a quick list (in no particular order) of places that I highly recommend finding and/or checking out.
Crater Lake, OR
Shenandoah NP, VA
Blue Ridge Parkway
Great Smoky Mtn. NP, TN/NC
Badlands NP, SD
Arches/Canyonlands/Zion/Bryce Canyon NP's, UT
Indiana Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore, IN (if you're near Chicago)
Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde NP's, CO
Finger Lake Region, Upstate NY
The Marin Headlands, CA
Big Sur (State Park? National Monument?), CA
The Everglades, FL
And some of my favorite cities:
Baltimore (particularly the inner harbor)
Virginia Beach, VA
Nashville and Memphis, TN
Mishawaka, IN (for purely personal reasons)
Good luck and safe driving.
Thanks for the info, Angus. Don't be too jealous, I am terrified! In the weeks leading up to my departure on this trip I will: Turn 31, leave a very well paying job (that robs my soul on a daily basis), buy a new car, put all of my belongings in storage and leave my home of the last 10 years, Chicago.
I think that I am most overwhelmed by plotting the route.
The routes in RTA (I am going to get flogged for not buying the book from the site.) don't seem to work together. I guess most people don't set out to visit the lower 48 in one trip. And the book just has soooo much information. Which I am sure will come in handy.... I'm jsut a bit dumbfounded right now.
QUESTION: If I am starting on the Gulf Coast of FL, and want hit Jazz Fest in New Orleans, should I then proceed West making a jagged counter clockwise loop of the country? Makes sense to me. Of course, I have not done this before.
No, I'm not much of a hiker, per se. I like to go to parks and follow the trails. I'm in good shape. I was just wondering if it is safe to hike alone in the National Parks.
Thanks for the list. I will begin to plot your suggestions on my big map tonight. Except Everglades, grew up camping there a few times a year. And probably not Big Sur, did Hwy 1 solo in October.
Thanks again, Linda
You have SO much time that it wouldn't matter where you started. I guess that given the time of year and my approximate mindset after attending Jazzfest, I'd probably backtrack east just a bit and head towards the Great Smoky Mountains. With all that time, I'd drive every inch of the Blue Ridge Parkway which connects the Smokies to Shenandoah National Park.
Just remember, the sky is the limit for you on this trip. Congratulations on leaving your job, if it is as bad as you say.
Good luck and safe driving.
feel free to e-mail me directly if you'd like
Best Advice: Don't plan (too much)
Couple of items:
1. I think you have your web sites mixed up -- RTA hasn't produced a roadtrip guide (yet). "Road Trip USA" is probably the book you are referring to and no, Jaimie didn't intend it to be used as a consecutive guide.
2. Hooray for you for taking the plunge! Life is way to short to stay in a job (that "robs your soul on a daily basis"). Everyday that is greeted with a huge "?" is a good one.
3. Some stopping point destinations along the path is a great idea -- but a road trip is an adventure -- by definition -- my favorite road trip is the one where I go to bed not knowing which direction I will be going in the next day. Upon waking, I choose a horizon and go that way and see what I can discover along the way.
4. Read Megan's essay about the Art of the RoadTrip at http://www.roadtripamerica.com/mftdb/053198ca.htm
5. A trip that only touches on a piece of each of the 48 lower states will require a minimum of 15,000 miles. So take your time.
6. We know a number of single woman roadtrippers -- common sense is your best tool for safety.
7. Megan (the other RTA editor) is fond of day-trip solo hiking in the national parks. Again, it is safe as long as you excercise a little common sense.
Go wander and let us know what you find!
I travel solo too
I am single female and have done several road trips travelling solo and SLEEPING IN MY CAR at truck stops, 24-hour restaurant parking lots, etc.
I've never had a problem so far. Am heading from Ontario Canada to Colorado & Wyoming in July 2003 & eagerly looking forward to it.
Hiking in the national parks - there are many many trails all marked as easy, moderate, difficult - with the lengths, expected time to do, etc. When alone, I just do the easy to moderate ones & return to the same point where I left my car.
Always carry a water bottle - even if you think you are just starting out on a brief 15-30 minute walk.
Carry ALL of your money/birth certificate/insurance cards/valuables/emergency numbers in a WAIST POUCH --- AT ALL TIMES. I even took it into the shower rooms with me. Put your car key on one of those plastic stretchy coiled key chains - so you can wear it around your wrist if going swimming or shower.
Put photocopies of your important documents/emergency who to call numbers in the car trunk.
Carry a gas gerry can! Always fill up - even if you don't think you need to. Some stretches of the road have absolutely NO services (especially across the west - desert/mountain areas).
Yes - definitely plan your route aiming for as many national parks as you can get to. They are each different and spectacular in their own way. ZION and BRYCE in southern Utah are two of my favourites.
www.mapquest.com - road trip planner - will give you good idea of driving times and mileage between points.
You do have lots of time to do whatever you wish. Happy planning!!!
Gas cans in the trunk (AKA Bomb)
I cannot disagree more strongly with the advice to carry a gas can in the trunk (or on the rear bumper). If you are rear-ended, a collision which you can do almost nothing to prevent, at even moderate speeds, that gas can become a highly incindiery bomb. That only has to happen once to spoil your whole trip.
I am not aware of anywhere in the United States or Canada where, if you keep your gas tank at least half full, you cannot get to the next gas station down the road. I am aware, on the other hand, of a whole lot of people who have burned to death in rear end collisions.
The states and federal government have also done a great job in marking highways where you are about to enter a longer-than-normal stretch where gasoline and other services are not available. My advice is to keep your gas tank topped off and leave the jerry cans at home.
FOR PETE'S SAKE!!! I NEVER SAID A WORD ABOUT HAVING "GAS" IN IT. OF COURSE, YOU CARRY IT EMPTY (duh!). THAT WAY WHEN YOU HAVE TO WALK TO GET GAS YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO CARRY IT IN OTHER THAN YOUR POCKET...
HERE IN CANADA, YOU CANNOT WALK UP AND BUY GAS WITHOUT A LEGAL RED GERRY CAN --- I IMAGINE IT IS THE SAME IN THE GOOD OL' U.S.A.
Thanks everyone! Here is what I have so far:
I am starting to feel much less overwhelmed by the planning process. A credit to this website and those who post here. Rather than staring at the map of the US, I have been looking at regions. Started plotting my route, without a timeline.
Here is what I have plotted thus far, omitting the possible detours and stops:
Safety Harbour, FL to New Orleans, LA
New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN (via Great River Road)
Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN, to Atlanta, GA
Atlanta, GA to Athens, GA
Athens, GA to Mt Washington, NH (via Road Trip USA's AT route)
Mt Washington, NH to Atlantic City, NJ (have yet to decide what to do between these two areas…. Open to all recommendations. I have been to NYC numerous times and not sure that I want it included in this trip. Will probably include Acadia National Park ,Bar Harbor, ME and Cape Cod.)
Atlantic City, NJ to Savannah, GA (via Road Trip USA's Coastal East Coast route, roughly)
Savannah, GA to El Paso, NM (via Road Trip USA's US 80 Southern Pacific route, roughly)
El Paso, NM to Santa Fe, NM (via 54 to 285)
Santa Fe, NM to Denver, CO
Denver, CO to San Diego (via UT and AZ, I am still working on this area due to all of the of the parks and monuments)
San Diego, CA to Vancouver, B.C. (primarily along the coast, with a detour to Yosemite)
And that's it so far. I have a, rather lengthy, running list of places I might like to stop along the way and possible detours. Trying not to plan too much, more along the lines of educating myself regarding the possibilities.
With that said, I am open to suggestions and advice. Thanks again!
When I found your website I knew that it was different from "Road Trip USA". Skip ahead a few hours after I had been reading posts, referring to my road atlas and to "Road Trip USA" taking furious notes…. I was more than a little overwhelmed. Had I proofread my post, I probably would have caught the error. Oh well.
Thanks for all of your great advice. The idea of going to bed not knowing which way I am headed in the morning puts a knot in my stomach. Looks like I definitely need to try to do just that, at least once.